I hate tantrums and disobedience. I don’t know about you, but when one of my children, or one of the children I care for in my daycare, says no and then collapses onto the floor while screaming and convulsing, I have to walk away. Sometimes I feel like pulling my hair out. Sometimes I just groan and roll my eyes. But, mostly I just wait until that child is done before saying a word or correcting the behavior.
I understand tantrums are a part of development – a frustrating part, but a normal part. I understand that when a child lacks in the ability to communicate his or her feelings, or is extremely tired, or feels frustrated, or is simply pushing boundaries and testing limits, that a tantrum is a normal albeit annoying response.
What I don’t understand is when an adult, especially a caregiver or teacher with supposedly some experience and knowledge of children, places his or her hands on a child in an abusive manner. I don’t understand a school that would call the police on a six-year-old. I don’t understand a world where our children are not protected by the very people charged to teach and care for them.
Two recent incidents in the news have me outraged and have me questioning the state of our educational system. These recent examples make me realize that bullying is not just a peer-to-peer issue. There are grown-ups who are bullying our children and every parent should stand-up against this brutality.
In West Virginia, Cameron Moffett, a principal in the Mason County School district was arrested on a charge of felony child abuse for physically handling a child and essentially throwing this child off of a bus in front of his peers. I watched the full video from the bus incident and I still don’t understand why this happened. The boy was probably being obstinate. He probably talked back. He didn’t want to comply with the instructions. But, did this boy deserve to be manhandled? From what I have read, this boy receives special education services and perhaps has a history of acting up. Does this mean it was okay for this principal to physically handle him in such an outrageous manner? Absolutely not. This boy was terrified as the principal tossed him down the stairs. You can hear him screaming and apologizing the entire time.
On April 13, in Baldwin Georgia, a six-year-old girl was handcuffed and arrested for throwing a tantrum in school. She was charged with battery and placed in police custody. The school did not inform the parents until after the child was arrested and placed in custody for more than an hour. The charges have since been dropped, but the record of her arrest still remains. A petition on change.org is now circulating to have her record expunged. I don’t know exactly what kind of tantrum she had, or any of the details, but frankly I don’t need to know anything other than she is SIX-YEARS-OLD. How dare this school arrest her and place her in custody. Did she wield a gun? No. Did she pose bodily harm to her peers? Probably not. She simply threw a tantrum, like many children her own age. Couldn’t the school think of another punishment, like sending her home? Did the school have to terrify her in such an unspeakable manner?
The only silver lining I can see in these incidents is that the parents of these children are not sitting down. They are not accepting this brutality. They are speaking out, pressing charges, filing civil suits, and starting national petitions. They are trying to change the way our children are being treated. I support these parents and these children completely. If it was my child I would not be able to sit down and take it. I would not be quiet. I would not rest until these people in authority understood that they cannot bully children. I would not rest until these authority figures lost their jobs and were forbidden from being around children again.
Have you witnessed or experienced an incident with a caregiver or teacher that crosses the line? Please share your story by leaving a comment or starting a discussion on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page.